The Value of Neighbors

Written by Angela Atkinson

Since moving into my neighborhood around six years ago, my life has changed drastically. I moved here with one child (and one in the oven), and now have three. My husband and I have both replaced our cars. I have gone from being a working mom to a stay at home mom, to a freelance writing work at home mom. I have strengthened some relationships, found distance in others, and even created several new ones.

One of these life changes has come in the form of my neighbors. Some of them, like the Ruesings next door, are now like family. Vera cuts the hair of my husband and sons, and even mine on occasion. She also does the occasional eyebrow wax and color fix for me. Joe, her son, helps me out with my web page difficulties and hooks me up with all the latest movies. We watch out for one another, and both have become true friends to us.

The neighbor on the other side of Vera, Sharon, introduced herself to me several months ago. She and I talked easily right off the bat. I learned that she used to drive my son’s bus, and that she shares many of the same views I do about the neighborhood as a whole.

This year, my oldest son started middle school, and they moved his bus stop from right across the street to a block away, which makes things very difficult for us as a family. I called the transportation company and was blown off. The neighbors all told me that there had always been a bus stop there, for more than 30 years. I didn’t know what to do.

I mentioned this situation to Sharon, and she was kind enough to contact the bus company on our behalf. After a bit of drama (which I will discuss on another day), I’m happy to report that the bus stop has returned to its rightful place, much to the chagrin of my son–who feels that I am “WAY TOO OVERPROTECTIVE!!”

Silly boy. If only he knew that I’d follow him to school every day if I could, watching through the windows. Just kidding…mostly. But I do know that even though he is eleven and thinks he’s grown up, it’s my responsibility to understand that he still needs to be parented and protected.

Ah, I digress. Back to the neighbors.

A family who lived down the street until two years ago recently came to visit us. It was amazing to see how much the kids had grown and to hear all about their new digs, but another realization came over me as we visited. These people too, were like family to me. Wonderful world, eh?

And one of my dearest friends, Lori, was originally my neighbor. She lived across the street, and I met her while I was pregnant with my middle child. (Who, by the way, happens to share a name with her son–quite coincidentally believe it or not.) We were friends almost instantly, and are still close today.

Over the years, I have learned that family doesn’t always have anything to do with biology. Instead, I’ve realized, your family includes people who are in your heart, in your life, in your world. Families take care of one another, watch out for one another, check in with one another. Families are tight. And I, my friends, am blessed not only by my nuclear family, but also by my extended family–all of them.

Believe me when I tell you this: the older I get, the more blessed I am by an ever-expanding family, full of both those related by blood and those related by spirit.


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